The Chronicles’ Choice…Favorite Non-Honda Builds of 2011…

Well this is a first…During the last couple months when I was busy trying to figure out how the order of the Top Ten Hondas of 2011 would go, I came up with an idea to spotlight some of my favorite non-Honda builds of the year. I am after all, an avid automotive enthusiast and I love cars of all types. I don’t even own a Honda anymore personally, and I’ve at one time had a Toyota, Honda, and now a Nissan (Infiniti). I always have my eye out on everything because I can appreciate a great build without brand bias. Another reason why I’m always looking for great builds in general is because I work in the magazine industry. It’s sort of my job to go and seek out new cars to feature so I have to always be aware of new builds that are coming out every year. This list isn’t in any particular order, much like the 2011 Honors list, because I feel all these cars are great in their own right. All are very different builds and from varying parts of the world. Some I have seen in person, some I hope to someday see…either way, it’s my personal list of favorite non-Honda builds from 2011. The Top Ten Hondas list will always trump any other list I make here on The Chronicles but to show my deepest appreciation for their hard work, here are some builds that stood out to me the most and really captured my attention….

Joy Abdalla’s Subaru STI…

This car absolutely took my breath away when I first spotted it at the 2011 SEMA Convention…It’s just a great looking car. I love how aggressive the widebody is on it and how it still flows with the original lines of the STI. Where this build really shines though is under the hood…the bay is very well-done and one of the cleanest Subaru engine bays I have ever seen. Everything just comes together nearly perfectly…the custom paint, aero, engine bay, interior…man, just top-notch… I believe this is going to be in an issue of Import Tuner in the future so make sure to grab a copy of that. I had a chance to meet the owner at one of the industry parties’ during the SEMA weekend in Vegas last year as well and when David Do from MayDay Garage introduced us, I can honestly say that I was very surprised to see that it was a female owner. I’m not saying that I’m surprised that a woman can build a great car, because I’ve seen it plenty of times before…I’m just saying, a lot of STI owners are usually like bro’d-out white dudes or larger gentlemen that seem like they enjoy a good competitive game of Warcraft…haha, okay that’s not totally true but thumbs-up to Joy Abdalla for building herself a wonderful car.  A favorite of mine for sure…

Nick Weir’s K20-powered Volkswagen Caddy…

Nick’s Caddy is probably one of the coolest builds of 2011. He wasn’t the first to do a K-swap in a VW Caddy but his is definitely the most well-rounded. When I first heard about this thing, I was really interested in seeing it in person. Luckily for me, I had a chance to fly out to Nashville, TN for the annual summer Import Alliance meet and I did indeed get the opportunity to see it for myself. There are little things here and there that obviously don’t make it “perfect” by any means, but Nick never intended it to be. It’s a little rough around the edges and that adds to the appeal of the truck. For what it is, the quality of work is very good. How often are you going to see a VW caddy with a K-swap and a battleship-greyish bay? It’s a one of a kind build with some unique personal touches to it that leave no question that it’s the work of Nick Weir. He was bummed that he didn’t get the Rotiform wheels that he wanted for it but the Work CR-01s look pretty good on there. This Caddy was one of the highlights for me in 2011 and I’m happy that I got to see it in person to appreciate it. Nick is a bit of a weirdo so his personality reflects his cars..haha. This thing is most certainly an odd-ball build but odd in a very cool way…

Machan’s A60 Toyota Carina wagon… 

Speaking of oddball builds, this Toyota Carina wagon is about as outside of the box as it gets. I first spotted this thing at the Hellaflush Japan event and I’ve been looking for more information and photos of this wagon ever since. It has a Japanese Firetruck theme on the outside and apparently, it’s actually used at one of the firestations. I love how it’s a mix of genres and also a mix of old school styling and new technology. The bay is tuck and shaved with the cage running through the firewalls to the shock towers, and the heart of this Carina is a Toyota BEAM’s 3S-GE from the Japanese market Toyota Altezza. It also has individual throttle bodies, a custom header, and a custom semi-trailing arm suspension. If that’s not enough, this Carina also features a Tilton brake system and 14×8.5/9 RS Watanabe wheels…Man, this thing is so sick. I know that the “stance” and “hellaflush” style is just getting completely out of hand but when it comes to a build like this, it works…. Everything is over the top and not meant to be anything taken too seriously… I don’t know about you guys, but I thoroughly enjoy old school Toyotas, Nissans, etc. and it’s cool when you see something like this that has a mix of everything…

Jin Ueno’s Aimgain VIP Lexus LS400…

Jin’s LS from Kyoei USA has to be my favorite VIP build of 2011. I say that because I’ve always preferred the more traditional VIP “look” and Jin has executed it well. When I say “traditional”, I mean, it’s not just all about wheel fitment and modifying fenders. He has taken the time to create a well-round VIP project…he’s paid attention to the interior, which is essential when building a VIP project, and he’s added some one-off touches that make it stand-out in a sea of black and white VIP cars. I love the simplicity of the Aimgain kit and the contrast of the red pinstriping and red exhaust tips. It’s another car that flows every well because the owner has paid great attention to minor details. The red also transfers over to the front fogs, something you never really see, and the black/red them is also found throughout the re-wrapped and custom stitched interior….VIP-style isn’t all about cramming stupid wide wheels into your luxury/non-luxury vehicle and this is a great example of how to build a VIP-style car…

Wilson Tam’s Carlsson 2010 Mercedes Benz E350…

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not all that familar with European vehicles. It’s just not something that I’ve taken an active interest in throughout the years. I just love Japanese cars and Japanese automotive culture, so my attention has been devoted to that. When I ran into Wilson Tam’s E350 at SEMA 2011, it made me want to learn more about a car that I would otherwise overlook normally. It was sitting in the outside display area and it just looked so good sitting on the ground on some custom bronze BBS LMs. I walked up to it and noticed that it also had a full Carlsson aero kit. Everyday that I went to the SEMA show that week, I found myself stopping by to take another look at it. If you have seen my coverage from SEMA and Autocon in 2011, then you most likely have already heard me rambling on about how much I like this build…I’m not that big of a fan of Mercedes Benzs but I love this one…

Ka Wong’s F20C-powered AE86 Toyota Corolla…

I’m a big fan of Ka Wong because he not only built himself an amazing AE86 Corolla, he also happens to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. This car has been around for about two years now but I like the fact that he continues to add new stuff to it. This year, he showed-off his custom audio set-up in his trunk and it just makes his Corolla that much more untouchable at car shows. The guy has been a consistent winner and he’s very much deserving of all the accolades that he receives. It’s just one of those cars that you can’t help but notice, you know? Not only because of the bright orange color but because of the S2000 engine swap and the myriad of other things he’s put into this build. There are very few AE86 Corollas that are built this level of quality and I’m happy that I’ve had plenty of chances to see this Corolla in person.

Ryan Deguzman’s FD3S and FC3S RX-7s…

Ryan Deguzman happens to have a pair of two of the finest RX-7s in the west coast. I don’t know how or why he has both these sick ass builds so I’ll just sit back and enjoy the view. His FD RX-7 stands out much more because of the yellow tone but his white FC is not a car that you should just overlook. It’s in mint condition and I believe his FC is also his daily driver. I’ve included links below to take you to some online features of both cars so that you can read more about them if you choose. I’ve never had a chance to meet this guy or speak to him but he has great taste in parts and has a very good sense of style. I really like both of his RX-7s and they are definitely two highlight builds of mine in 2011…

Click here to read more about Ryan Deguzman’s FD3s RX-7…

Must be nice, right? Haha…round of a applause to this guy for having a pair of well-built Mazdas…

Click here to read more about Ryan Deguzman’s FC3s RX-7…

Brandon Burke’s S13 Nissan 240SX coupe…

I didn’t get a chance to see Brandon Burke’s S13 until December of 2011 but it immediately became a favorite of mine in 2011. I just love how simple it is and how it can still look really aggressive without having any wild aero. What I like the most about it is that it’s completely garage-built and everything but the paint itself was put together inside his crappy garage. It’s a little rough around the edges here and there but it’s almost a throwback to how cars were put together back in the day. Brandon is completely self-taught and put this whole car together himself without having the help of any shop or anything. I can’t say much more about it because his Super Street feature drops in about a month so just pick up that issue if you want to hear me write more about how great it is…

Mark Arcenal’s Hakosuka Skyline 2000GT…

2011 will probably be remembered as the year that Rauh Welt cemented it’s status in America and that’s largely due to the efforts of Mark Arcenal from Fatlace/Illest. His Rauh Welt Porsche was the talk of the second half of 2011 but my favorite Mark Arcenal automotive build will always be his Nissan Skyline 2000GT. I just feel that the Rauh Welt look is a look that Akira Nakai created and it will always be Nakai’s style. Mark’s Porsche was built to represent Rauh Welt so the car is very much Nakai’s creation and not truly his. His Skyline on the other hand, is more of Mark’s handy work and has more elements to it that are more representative of Arcenal himself. It’s not built off another car that’s already been done before and I love the overall look of it. It’s style in it’s purest form. I also enjoyed how Mark himself described the car in a video that I’ve attached below. Check it out and you’ll understand why I like this build so much more than “Pandora One”. You can tell how big of an enthusiast he is just by listening to him talk about his car…really neat stuff…

If the video link doesn’t work for you, click here to go to the page

Well, that’s it for today. I promise this is the last of the “Top”-whatever lists. Haha…Time to move on to stuff that’s going on in 2012…Thanks for looking….

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